A 63-year old Birmingham woman discovered dead on a roadside in Ensley was killed by dogs.
Woman Killed by Dogs
Birmingham, AL - A woman found dead on a roadside in Birmingham's Ensley neighborhood on November 9 was killed by dogs, authorities said Monday. The announcement comes four days after one or more dogs inflicted the fatal attack. The dog(s) responsible, apparently, have not been located either, which means that any person walking in the area is at risk. The Jefferson County Coroner’s Office identified the victim as 63-year old Sharon Kaye Billups Portis, who lived in Birmingham.
The autopsy performed by the county coroner determined that Portis' injures are due to an "apparent dog attack." Portis was discovered by a passerby just before 6:30 am on the grass shoulder of a roadway in the 2000 block of 18th Street Ensley. Her bicycle was lying a few feet away. She was known to ride her bike frequently. She was pronounced dead on the scene at 6:45 am. Birmingham police are investigating the circumstances around her death. No other information has been released.
On August 26, 2022, at about 1:00 am, a man was discovered dead on a roadway near his bicycle in Channelview, an unincorporated area in Harris County, Texas. He sustained multiple dog bite injuries. There were no witnesses to the attack, and the area is known for packs of stray dogs. The coroner eventually ruled the cause of death was "multiple sharp and blunt force injuries due to dog bites." It is unknown if authorities ever captured the dogs involved or if that investigation yielded any results.
Family Members Seek Answers
Portis' family members believe she was leaving for work late Wednesday night, when she was attacked. She lived about 100 yards away from the location of the attack. Birmingham police say they are investigating, but Portis' brother, Albert Ford, said that no one from that agency has contacted his family. “No one from that agency has contacted any of her family members. She has a mother, she has an 88-year-old mother, no one has contacted her mother or any of her family,” Ford said.
On Thursday, police finally issued a warning to Ensley residents, encouraging them to carry a big stick or pepper spray, since the dog(s) involved have not been captured almost a week after the fatal attack. “We have not been able to identify the animals and we do consider them to be a danger to the public because they are still loose," officer Truman Fitzgerald said. Police are urging animal control to set up traps to capture stray dogs in the area. Yet, it remains unknown if stray dogs were involved.
Meanwhile, Ford and other family members have been combing the neighborhood searching for the dogs before they attack again. "Someone has died. There is a present danger!" he told WVTM. Ford has been looking for surveillance video and doorbell cameras that could have captured the attack. Ford is doing the work that police should be doing, he said. “I'm out here being a detective because I feel there is no detective, and nobody really cares. I mean, that's just kind of the way I feel.”
The director of The Greater Birmingham Humane Society, Allison Black Cornelius, who urged action after Joe Cleveland was killed by dogs in March, said that no one is safe until these dogs are identified and taken off the streets. We agree, especially if this involved a dog pack. There have been multiple cases of the same dog pack killing two people before being caught. Last year in Alabama, a dog pack killed a public health employee after attacking a woman one day earlier, who also died.
"I'm very concerned at the lack of what appears to be an investigation this week into these, who are these animals? Were they owned, were they are wild pack because I understand that her injuries were really I mean really horrendous and horrific. So, we got to figure out what happened." - Allison Black Cornelius
Ford is also shaken by her injuries, and that attacks like this even occur in a civilized society. "Just to even imagine that it's hard to sleep, is hard to rest, is hard to work, because this is inconceivable that something in this day and age in the city of Birmingham. I mean, for real, seriously, I mean, this is just unimaginable that this can happen." However, if you follow this blog, you will know that fatal pack attacks routinely occur in the South, like the near double fatal attack in Louisiana in September.
03/01/23: 2023 Dog Bite Fatality: Dog Pack Kills 74-Year Old Man in Jefferson County, Alabama
07/30/23: 2023 Dog Bite Fatality: Skipperville Man Killed by Dog Pack; Captured on Surveillance...
Law enforcement departments across the United States should release consistent "baseline" information to the media and the public after each fatal dog mauling, including these items.